Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence

  Young Aboriginal Mothers in Winnipeg


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The research and publication of this study were funded by the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE). The PWHCE is financially supported by the Women's Health Contribution Program, Bureau of Women's Health and Gender Analysis, Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the PWHCE or the official policy of Health Canada.

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Lisa Murdock, M.A.

Executive Summary

In the fall of 2008, Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE) conducted a study, Young Aboriginal Mothers in Winnipeg. The aim of the study was to develop a better understanding of the issues surrounding teen pregnancy among Aboriginal women, in order to adequately respond to the needs of young Aboriginal mothers through effective policies, programs and practices.

While the key findings from the research may not be representative of all Aboriginal women, they do reveal that, overall, this group of women did appear to have an adequate understanding about sex, protection, pregnancy and safe-sex practice; however, their knowledge in this regard was relatively new and fairly simple. The women routinely engaged in unsafe sex practices, most notably because the use of protection between committed partners was viewed as unnatural and not normal.

Consistent with their own perceptions on the issue, the women trace their own experiences with teen pregnancy back to the familial situations in which they were raised, and their consequential search for love and attachment. While the majority of pregnancies among this group of women were unplanned, several women maintained that their pregnancy was planned, sometimes in consultation with their intimate partner at the time. In any case, the general feeling among the women with regard to their pregnancy and their decision to become a teen mom was that of happiness. While parenting as a teen did prove to be challenging, for the most part, the women appeared satisfied with the decisions they made around their adolescent pregnancy.

The challenges identified by the women included those which centered on the women’s financial hardship, lack of parenting and lifeskills, limited access to adequate housing and childcare, and difficulties around transportation. The women expressed a strong desire to further their education, find employment, and possibly have more free time for self-care.

As such, the women recognized their need for better program awareness and more programs designed to assist not only young moms, but young dads as well. They suggested that such programming should include a cultural component and provide services with include respite, mentorship, addictions counseling, parenting and lifeskills, and communication development. The women identified the need for motivational and reality speakers, as a means of preventative education, and they stressed the need for more assistance around education and childcare.

As presented in the women’s own words through excerpts from their discussions with the researcher, this report offers valuable insight with which to better meet the needs of young Aboriginal women who become pregnant, or are at risk of becoming pregnant, during adolescence.

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